3 new commissioners to be sworn in Monday night

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On Monday night, three new Mecklenburg County Commissioners will be sworn in, and they are walking into controversy.

From the firing of the Department of Social Services director to the other board members blaming the county manager for the botched revaluation, one outgoing commissioner said they need to hit the ground running.

There will be two controversial topics from right off the top.

The new board will oversee finding a replacement for fired DSS Director Mary Wilson and try to gain better oversight of the agency. It also needs to fix the 2011 property tax revaluation.

Outgoing chairman Harold Cogdell said it will take the new commissioners time to get up to speed, and he hoped they have already started.

"I think it will take a real commitment for the new members to understand how complex this issue is," said Cogdell.

After the election, incoming commissioner Pat Cotham said she has already been attending revaluation hearings and meetings, and commissioner-elect Trevor Fuller is expecting to jump right in.

There is another challenger, said University of North Carolina at Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig.

"The problem in both of these situations is that county staff is part of the problem," said Heberlig.

Commissioner Bill James has laid the revaluation blame at the feet of County Manager Harry Jones.

It has created a tense relationship that new board members are walking right into.

"It makes it really complicated as a new member. You really don't have any experience with him, and you do not have your own judgment on whether he has been doing things competently or not," said Heberlig.

The board actually has four new members.

Matt Ridenhour was sworn in early on Nov. 20 to be in place as the county handled the revaluation issue.

He replaced Neil Cooksey, who died of cancer.